Sweetwater Close Up 2Many people complain about the state of health care in the US, but without the millions of dedicated, unpaid family caregivers across the country, the overall health of our nation would look a lot worse. There are over 43 million Americans who are currently caring for elderly family members. They are the invisible backbone to the health care system. If you are a family caregiver or know someone who is, take a moment today to give yourself or them a pat on the back. You deserve it!

Fact #1 – The estimated annual value of family caregiving in 2009 was $450 billion. (Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Economic Value of Family Caregiving. AARP Public Policy Institute.)

Fact #2 – The average family caregiver for someone 50 years or older spends $5,531 per year on out of pocket caregiving expenses in 2007, which was more than 10% of the median income. (Valuing the Invaluable: The Economic Value of Family Caregiving, 2008 Update. AARP)

Fact #3 – Half (50%) of the family caregiver population works full-time, along with anywhere from 15-25 hours/week spent on caregiving. (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S., A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 or Older, Bethesda, MD: National Alliance for Caregiving, Washington, D.C.)

Fact #4 – On average, caregivers spend 20.4 hours per week providing care. Those who live with their care recipient spend 39.3 hours per week caring for that person. (The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S: National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, D.C.)

Fact #5 – Employed female caregivers are more likely to make workplace adjustments than male caregivers. (Walker, J. 2005, Reworking work: the experience of employed caregivers of older adults)

Fact #6 – 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with about a quarter to half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. (Zarit, S. (2006) Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective in Family Caregiver Alliance (Eds.), Caregiver Assessment: Voices and Views from the Field. Report from a National Consensus Development Conference (Vol. II) (pp. 12-37). San Francisco: Family Caregiver Alliance.)

While these statistics aren’t exactly uplifting, it’s important to remember that every family’s situation is a little different. In the end, statistics don’t matter, but the health and well-being of your family does matter. It could be that you just need more support in your caregiving tasks, by handing off some of the responsibility to others or even getting recognition for your efforts.

It could also be that the burden of caregiving is becoming unmanageable. If this is the case, it may be time to consider getting more professional help, either by hiring an outside caregiver or RN, or finding an assisted living home for your loved one. Contact us today to talk about your options and see how Colten Adult Care can fit the needs of your loved one.